i dont see the dilema.
you can get normal laptop computers in a variety of prices as low as $400 to over $2000. with nettops normally costing at least a few hundred getting a normal laptop with the larger screen might be your best bet.
for about $750 i bought an asus i7 model with a decent video card. for $450-500 we bought our mother an asus i3 model.
in the end it is worth buying something that is a little much for what you need than not enough. also remember that you will most likely not use the laptop for just schooling. i'm sure you will use it for photos, facebook, or whatever you college kids are into now.
of course there are always plenty of options out there... anything from a phone to ipad to nettop to laptop will work all with pros and cons